brooklynhadboy brought us the news this morning that Rick Santorum actually said that mainline Protestants are no longer Christians.
I'm shamelessly stealing his title to report a story which is, in its way, just as shocking. The source is Mother Jones, and the news is that Santorum, during his time in the Senate, helped rob a vets' home of tens of millions of dollars - for the benefit of the Catholic University of America.
Story below the orange flourish that would not be out of place in a papal bull.
The Armed Forces Retirement Home, which is run by the Department of Defense, bills itself as the "premier home for military retirees and veterans." It sits on 272 acres in northern Washington, DC. At its peak, more than 2,000 veterans of World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War lived at the Home.
But with the rise of the smaller all-volunteer military, the Home began to run into serious financial problems. In the 1990s, the Home scrambled to find ways to avoid insolvency, trimming its staff by 24 percent and reducing its vet population by 800. Still, the money problems began to show, with its older historic facilities slipping into disrepair and decay. To grapple with its worsening shortfall, officials running the Home eyed a valuable, 49-acre piece of land worth $49 million as a potential financial lifeline.
Enter Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.). At the behest of the Roman Catholic Church, and unbeknownst to the Home, Santorum slipped an amendment into the 1999 National Defense Authorization Act handcuffing how the home could cash in on those 49 acres. The amendment forced the Home to sell—and not lease—the land to its next-door neighbor, the Catholic University of America. Ultimately, the Catholic Church bought 46 acres of the tract for $22 million. The Home lost the land for good, and by its own estimates, pocketed $27 million less than the land's value and $83 million less than what it could've made under the lease plan. Santorum's amendment sparked an outcry from veterans' groups and fellow US senators, who barraged his office with complaints.
Laurence Branch, then the executive director of the Home's board, says Santorum's amendment was "a travesty" and the Church's lobbying for the land a case of "coveting thy neighborhood's goods." To this day, Branch says he blames Santorum for the Home not receiving more money for the 49-acre parcel of land. "I'm convinced Sen. Santorum is no friend of veterans," Branch says. (A spokesman for Catholic University did not respond to a request for comment.)